London based artist “Peter Newman’s latest sculpture is contemplative and with a strong physical presence: it examines the Utopian values of Modernist art but also has a transcendental quality to it.” says; Tim Marlow, Director of Artistic Programmes, Royal Academy of Arts, London. As part of an incidental series of exhibitions exploring the classification system of Foyles bookshop, 51°30’51”N 0°07’48”W brings together two related series of work by the British artist Peter Newman, concerned with the experience and recording of different locations around the world.
The title describes the location co-ordinates of the gallery and the works reflect the artist’s interest in a human relationship to space and modernity, a fascination with the built environment, and the inherent potential for communication in a city. The centrepiece of the exhibition is a full-sized prototype of a Skystation sculpture by Newman, recently commissioned for Riverlight, a new St James residential development in Nine Elms, London. The permanent sculpture measures over four meters in diameter. Made from cast and polished aluminium, it is located on a public footpath next to the Thames – among the buildings designed by Rogers, Stirk, Harbour & Partners – close to the new US Embassy.
Skystation is an interactive sculpture, inspired by Le Corbusier and Charlotte Perriand’s LC4 chaise-longue, that also acts as a piece of public seating. The contours of the work are designed to fit up to 12 people reclining and encourage contemplation of the vast expanse of space above. An object to be observed and used, Skystation has the incidental effect of bringing it’s users’ heads into close proximity at the centre, thereby making conversation between strangers almost inevitable, whilst looking upwards. Cognitive research suggests we do our best thinking lying down. At Foyles, the sculpture will encourage unscripted spoken exchanges within the famous emporium of the written word.
In his book Phenomenology of Perception, Maurice Merleau-Ponty emphasized the body as the primary site of knowing the world. Consciousness, the world, and the human body as a perceiving thing, are intricately intertwined and mutally engaged. Skystation reflects this idea, as an artwork that is completed by the viewer experientially.
A maquette of Skystation was first shown at the Guggenheim Museum in Venice during the Architecture Biennale. Installed in the gallery is a fibreglass version, editions of which have been sited in Trafalgar Square, the City of London, Canary Wharf, the New Art Centre, the Hayward Gallery and is in the collection of MUDAM, Museum of Modern Art, Luxembourg.
The exhibition is further comprised of a series of Newman’s Metropoly photographs, which record the view looking up from different cities around the world. The photographs are taken using a vintage scientific lens that captures a 180-degree view. Due to the panoptic nature of the lens, slight changes in position radically alter what appears in view. Consequently, the process requires searching for the precise vantage point from where everything falls into place, and the time at which to record it. The photographs are then created in-camera with a single exposure.
The circular images examine a spectrum of architecture across the globe, revealing the character of a city and the way it frames the sky. The city is seen as an instrument of communication and a reflection of creative intent. The photographs have a documentary quality, like a form of inverse cartography, tracing a typology of structures and the topography of the built environment.
Peter Newman: 51°30’51”N 0°07’48”W 19th February – 28th March 2016 The Gallery at Foyles, 107 Charing Cross Road, London Curated by Futurecity London St Mary Axe Dial 2015: Opening Hours: Monday – Saturday 9.30am – 9.00pm Sundays 11.30 – 6.00pm Address: